If you haven't heard of the 276 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from a boarding school in the middle of the night on April 14th, you're not alone. An already tragic event, it's unfortunately been made worse by the media's failure to bring necessary attention to it (I could rant about the hypocrisy behind this for days). But now - over two weeks after the incident took place - the media is finally stepping up and that's largely due to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
Carried out by the extremist terrorist group Boko Haram - which indiscriminately targets Christians and Muslims in northern Nigeria and Amnesty International estimates has already been responsible for more than 1500 deaths so far in 2014 alone - this isn't the first time it's organized this type of kidnapping, but it has been one of the largest in number. Boko Haram's leader most recently announced that he plans to sell the girls, who range in age from 16-18. So beyond just promoting its warped ideologies through terrorist acts, the group actually profits through human trafficking.
Several organizations, celebrities, and individuals, have taken to Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls in an effort to put pressure on both the media and governments to give the kidnapping the attention it so rightly warrants, and as a call for action that will hopefully get these girls returned home. The power of this "hashtag activism" shouldn't be taken lightly; although several groups have organized physical protests, showing support via use of a hashtag is one of the easiest and most effective ways to spread awareness to the cause. It shows that where the media may fall short, we as a society are not willing to turn a blind eye. It tells governments that we are watching and we do expect accountability.
Increased awareness and strength in numbers provide the best chance for a positive outcome in a situation like this, so join the cause and show your support using #BringBackOurGirls.